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Isaac Landman

LANDMAN, ISAAC (1880–1946), U.S. Reform rabbi. Born in Sudilkov, Russia, Landman was taken to Cincinnati in 1889. He matriculated at the University of Cincinnati (1906) and was ordained at Hebrew Union College. He served at Congregation Kenesseth Israel, Philadelphia (1906–10), and helped establish the farm colony of Jews in Clarion, Utah. Landman was equally active outside the congregational sphere. While in Philadelphia, he was executive secretary of the National Farm School, and in 1916 he was Jewish chaplain with the U.S. forces in Mexico. From 1918 to 1937 he was editor of the American Hebrew and in 1928 began the planning of the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, of which he was editor in chief and which appeared in ten volumes between 1939 and 1943. A veteran of World War I, he also served as chaplain with Pershing's army in Mexico and worked with the Jewish Welfare Board to establish a training school for chaplains. He then served at Temple Israel in Far Rockaway, N.Y., and became editor of the American Hebrew, then a prominent newspaper. When the depression hit, he was forced to return to the pulpit and went on to serve Beth Elohim, in Brooklyn (1931–46). One of Landman's principal interests was the goodwill movement between Christians and Jews. Triggered by a blood libel accusation in 1927 in upstate New York, called the Massena Incident, he organized the Permanent Commission for Better Understanding Between Protestants, Catholics and Jews and became its executive secretary. When the National Conference of Christians and Jews was formed the Commission was no longer needed. A man of varied talents, he was interested in drama and worked with his brother on a number of plays. He testified against political Zionism before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives and fought domestic antisemitism so actively that he was called the two-fisted rabbi. He was a delegate to the founding of the World Union of Progressive Judaism (1926) and named president of the interdenominational Synagogue Council of America just before he died.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.